STATEMENT to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
in re 45-47 Park Place proposed landmarking status.
July 13, 2010
by Valerie Lucznikowska, Member, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.
Thank you for this opportunity to address the Commission and others here who are interested in preserving the heritage and beauty of our city. My name is Valerie Lucznikowska and I was Executive Director of the Congress of Modern Architects for six years. As someone who lost a family member in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, I also have a keen interest in the area, as do my colleagues in September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, some of whom are in the audience.
The building at issue here, 45-47 Park Place, is a representative of the Italianate style of architecture, a handsome building, but not unique. There are myriad better examples of the antebellum Italianate style in areas including Tribeca, Soho, the Lower East Side, Red Hook Brooklyn, and Williamsburg. This landmarking proposal was calendared by the LPC years ago with reason. The current proposal to demolish the building to make way for a Muslim Community Center, Cordoba House, has prompted the Commission to examine whether or not to move ahead with a landmark designation at this point. The possibility of giving landmark status to the building in question has been in the hopper for 21 years, partly postponed by the opposition of The Burlington Coat Factory corporation, its former tenant, and partly because the building is not worth the designation, as it is not unique and no longer part of a surrounding architectural grouping. Similar buildings nearby have long been replaced and overshadowed by skyscrapers, and many other substantial communities of this architectural type still exist elsewhere in the city as I formerly stated. For these reasons, the landmarking proposal has languished at the Commission with no active proponents to bring it to the fore.
I completely support landmark status for good examples of architectural styles that represent various eras of development in New York City. But it is the opinion of many architects that there needs to be a consistency in how that status is granted. With a plethora of this type of design still extant in the city, individual buildings like this should be landmarked preferably where they still exist in groups to convey the sense of the community in its time. Therefore, I urge the Commission to make their decision based on the true merits of the design, which in this case is not extraordinary. Many of us, myself and other 9/11 family survivors here with me in the audience who lost loved ones in NYC, urge you to work with the Muslim Center to find the best solution for keeping any of the building features you deem significant, while recognizing the immense value of the Community Center, as planned, to all the residents of lower Manhattan.